Support Groups Cannot:
Always provide quick solutions to problems. Often people turn to a support group with the expectation that the problem will resolved within a few sessions. Some feel that the only reason to turn to outsiders for help is to solve the problems and do so quickly, even though the problems have been building up for months or years. Many problems do not have a solution and sometimes the realization of this fact is something that is gained from participating in a monthly support group.
Support Groups Can:
- Help you feel less alone in dealing with the problem.
- Provide a wealth of information from members about where to turn for help with a particular problem — from recommended reading material, to information on dealing with agencies, courts, institutions, etc., to suggesting attorneys or therapists the individuals in the group have found to be most knowledgeable and helpful with that type of problem.
- Brainstorm with the group to come up with ideas on approaches to try in dealing with a problem that have worked successfully for others in the past.
- Give you courage and support in taking difficult steps that may be necessary to bring about change.
- Help you to open up and express feelings (often very negative ones) with a “safe” group who understand and admit to having the same or similar feelings at various times.
- Give a feeling of empowerment that comes from taking constructive action on a problem rather than denying it or sitting around and feeling helpless about the problem.
- Show that there are people who are willing to share their knowledge, experiences and feelings and that they care about helping one another.
- Sometimes bring about change in a community through group action in dealing with a problem.
Most adoptive and foster parent groups do much more at their meetings than sit around and talk about problems, but if you pay close attention you’ll see the points listed above taking place. An arm around a shoulder, a child seeing other children and not feeling so different, a parent grateful for a listening ear – whether the focus of the meeting is social, or a guest speaker or an outing, support can and does take place. Take time to know the people, to share your concerns and to offer your experiences. The results may be surprising.
Source: Peggy Dunlop, Adoptive Families Association of Tompkins County, NY